Kitchen Adventures

We are going to my SILs for Thanksgiving dinner this year. They live 1.5 hours away from us, so it’s sometimes difficult to bring food on a car trip that is so long. It’s not like I can keep food hot that long, ya know?

So what do we bring?

Well, we are bringing some drinks – probably some 2-litres of soda – so that’s not exciting.

But since I’m in the mood to cook and to do a little experimenting, we are going to bring a beef and cracker dip that my family loves and I’m going to play around with making a pumpkin trifle!

The beef and cracker dip is so easy and so yummy! It sounds like it would taste awful, and it isn’t the most beautiful dip, but it’s delicious. (Not according to my wonderful husband, though. He’s not a fan.)

Here’s what you need:

A block of softened cream cheese
A container of sour cream
A green bell pepper, diced
A small onion, diced
And 4oz of dried beef, diced
A bit of lemon juice (half a lemon or a small squeeze/shake from the bottle)

Here’s what you do:

Put the cream cheese and sour cream in an oven safe dish. Top that with the bell pepper, onion, and dried beef. Mix that all together. Add your lemon juice, stir one more time, then bake at 350 until hot.

Serve with crackers (we like these).

Note: You can chop the onion, green pepper, and dried beef in your food processor. Works like a charm! Also, you want to scoop out/up all your green bell pepper and squeeze out the extra juice from it. Trust me, there will be a lot more than you would think. If you don’t, then your dip will be watery and green. Not very appetizing at all.

~*~

I always like to bring dessert to gatherings. I’m the baker in the family, on both sides really. It’s just something I love to do. I always like to make a pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, but my SIL’s MIL (got that?) has dibs on that. Should this trifle thing work out, I’ll call SIL and make sure I won’t be stepping on her MIL’s toes if I also bring a pumpkin dish (she was VERY concerned about bringing that pumpkin pie!).

I looked up a few recipes for a pumpkin trifle, and none of them really stood out to me. I found some promising sounding ones, but the recipes were disappointing. So I’m going to make my own recipe, using some ideas from everything I read this morning.

First I’m going to bake some pumpkin bread and muffins (my recipe makes 12 muffins and a loaf of bread) for the base. Since we are just trying out the recipe, I’m going to make individual servings with the muffins and freeze the loaf for when I actually make this for a holiday dinner.

Here’s that recipe:

2/3 cup shortening
2 2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 cups stewed and pureed pumpkin (or 1 can)
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves

Note: I often substitute 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon and cloves – it is fabulous!

Preheat oven to 350. Mix shortening and sugar together. Add eggs, pumpkin, and water. Mix well. Blend in flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and cloves. Bake muffins for 25 minutes and bake bread for 70 minutes. This will make 12 muffins and one loaf of bread, 24 muffins, or two loaves of bread.

~*~

When that’s done, I’m going to make some no-bake cheesecake. I saw a few recipes that had you make cheesecake pudding for the middle, custard part of the trifle. I think the pudding version is just nasty, so I’ll use my recipe. It comes out slightly thicker than pudding, but if it’s stirred up it should be close to the consistency of a custard.

Here’s that recipe – it’s so simple!

Take one block of softened cream cheese and mix it with one box of vanilla pudding until smooth. Then mix in a pint of heavy cream. Pour into your dish and let set in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours. That’s it! I usually put it on a graham cracker crust and top it with cherry pie filling. It’s a yummy summer treat that doesn’t last long in our house! It’s also one of my dad’s favorites, so I usually make it when he’s coming for a visit.

~*~

What I plan to do for this is split the final product in half. One half I’ll leave plain, and the other half will get one cup of fresh pureed pumpkin (I made it myself!) and some pumpkin pie spice (I use this recipe for that). I hope the pumpkin version tastes really yummy! I love pumpkin cheesecake, so hopefully a no-bake version of it will work too.

Then I’ll assemble. The Mr. thinks this all sounds gross, so I’m going to make a few different combinations:

1. Pumpkin bread with plain cheesecake
2. Pumpkin bread with pumpkin cheesecake
3. Pumpkin bread with plain and pumpkin cheesecake

I also have some Cool Whip to layer in there. Personally, I think the third option will be just fabulous, but we’ll see! If this turns out yummy, I’ll make homemade whipped cream instead of using Cool Whip. And I’ll also throw some chopped pecans and gingerbread cookie crumbs to the top. I’m not quite as fancy when I’m just trying out a concoction, though!

I’ll be sure to take a picture of the finished individual servings I’m making later and share them – I hope they look cute!

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